NOBODY will ever forget the utter devastation and heartbreak on that December morning in 2015 when the reality of Storm Desmond’s destruction was revealed.

It is therefore little surprise that the response to the disaster and the project to ensure as far as possible that we never experience such scenes again arouses such strong emotions among the townspeople of Kendal and the wider area.

That has been clear as after years of painstaking research and development, a multi-million pound scheme to try to fulfil this aim has slowly but surely taken shape.

And the scheme edged closer to reality, opposition was voiced and over time grew stronger.

Concerns were expressed over a range of issues, including the effect the massive project would have on the much loved heart of our beautiful town.

And, almost inevitably at a time when environmental issues are so much to the fore both locally and globally, serious concerns were expressed when more detailed plans revealed the loss of hundreds of mature trees, sparking additional fears over the attendant effects on the town’s eco-system.

Significantly, many of the objectors to the scheme were the very people whose own homes were flooded during Storm Desmond, some even saying another flood was a price worth paying to save the town’s appearance.

Clearly, with all this in mind, the task faced by the Environment Agency in piloting the scheme was an enormous one.

Whether you fully back the plans or vehemently oppose them, and there are Kendalians on both sides of this particular fence, it was abundantly clear the path was never going to be a smooth one.

The EA have had to equate the twin priorities of saving people’s lives, property, well being and peace of mind and the need to preserve the character of a historic town which once lost, may never be rediscovered.

It is a huge responsibility and one thing is unarguable.

This is more than a once in a lifetime issue and more even than a once in a century or even once in an era issue.

With that in mind, all parties involved have but one chance to get it right.

We must hope for all our sakes they do just that.